Tourette syndrome (also called Tourette's syndrome, Tourette's disorder, Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, GTS or, more commonly, simply Tourette's or TS) is an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by multiple physical (motor) tics and at least one vocal (phonic) tic. These tics characteristically wax and wane, can be suppressed temporarily, and are preceded by a premonitory urge. Tourette's is defined as part of a spectrum of tic disorders, which includes provisional, transient and persistent (chronic) tics.
Tourette's was once considered a rare and bizarre syndrome, most often associated with the exclamation of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks ( coprolalia), but this symptom is present in only a small minority of people with Tourette's. Tourette's is no longer considered a rare condition, but it is not always correctly identified because most cases are mild and the severity of tics decreases for most children as they pass through adolescence. Between 0.4% and 3.8% of children and adolescents ages 5 to 18 may have Tourette's; the prevalence of other tic disorders in school-age children is higher, with the more common tics of eye blinking, coughing, throat clearing, sniffing, and facial movements. Extreme Tourette's in adulthood is a rarity, and Tourette's does not adversely affect intelligence or life expectancy.
Genetic and environmental factors play a role in the etiology of Tourette's, but the exact causes are unknown. In most cases, medication is unnecessary. There is no effective treatment for every case of tics, but certain medications and therapies can help when their use is warranted. Education is an important part of any treatment plan, and explanation and reassurance alone are often sufficient treatment. Comorbid conditions (co-occurring diagnoses other than Tourette's) such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) are present in many patients seen in tertiary specialty clinics. These other conditions often cause more functional impairment to the individual than the tics that are the hallmark of Tourette's; hence, it is important to correctly identify comorbid conditions and treat them.
The eponym was bestowed by Jean-Martin Charcot (1825–1893) on behalf of his resident, Georges Albert Édouard Brutus Gilles de la Tourette (1857–1904), a French physician and neurologist, who published an account of nine patients with Tourette's in 1885.